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Vibrant Environment

When Cars Lie

The Volkswagen Jetta TDI was one model using defeat devices to sidestep emission
By Dave Rejeski, Director; Technology, Innovation and the Environment Project
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

For months, Volkswagen has been reeling from an emissions manipulation scandal affecting over one-half million U.S. vehicles and costing the company more than $20 billion in reparations. The financial and reputational damage has now invaded the VW supply chain, with Bosch, the company who developed the emissions control programs for VW, agreeing to pay customers over $300 million in damages. Who is next? Probably Fiat/Chrysler and Daimler, both under investigation for evading diesel emissions rules.

Regulation: Is $100 Million What It Used to Be?

Congress has used the $100 million threshold in numerous acts. (Photo: Glen Lowe
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Monday, June 19, 2017

Federal regulations undergo a lot of review during their development and drafting by federal agencies: input from government attorneys and economists, rounds of public comments under the Administrative Procedure Act, review by the Small Business Administration, and—often most significantly—review by the regulatory gatekeepers housed at the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

Environmental Sustainability: Finding a Working Definition

Villagers returning home as the sun sets in the Philippines (Source: UN Photo/Od
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“Sustainability” was introduced in environmental policy discourse 30 years ago, when the World Commission on Environment and Development published Our Common Future, charting a path for development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” But as Scott Fulton, David Clarke, and María Amparo Albán write in the June issue of

Working Toward a Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries Solution in Spain

fish
By Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program
Monday, June 12, 2017

In my last blog, I wrote about ACERGA’s lawsuit against the government of Spain over the current criteria for fisheries quota distribution. In addition to the lawsuit, in late March 2017, ACERGA, in cooperation with the Universidade da Coruña (UDC) Law School, organized a conference to bring together government representatives, fishers, and fishing policy experts to discuss the problems with and propose solutions to the current quota distribution system and purse-seine fishing.

With Declining Budgets, EPA Adjusts Approach to Compliance and Enforcement

EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo: NRDC)
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In the midst of gigantic political divide, on May 4, 2017, the Senate passed a continuing resolution that will finance the government through September 2017. The details of the resolution saw many environmentalists cheer as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) saw a modest cut to its budget to the tune of $80 million, a 1% cut overall. This victory came on the heels of a threatened cut of 31% in the president’s proposed budget.

Offshore and Still on the Horizon: President Trump's Executive Order on the Outer Continental Shelf

An offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
By Jay Austin, Senior Attorney; Editor-in-Chief, Environmental Law Reporter®
Monday, June 5, 2017

Even prior to recent events, the topic of "presidential power" had been trending. There's now an entire law school course devoted to the Trump Administration's first 100 days; several of us at ELI recently assessed the viability of current and proposed executive branch actions in the regulatory arena; and federal court cases on the travel ban and on defunding sanctuary cities are a reminder that executive orders can be swiftly reviewed where they test constitutional or statutory limits.

Why IBM Stands Firm in Supporting the Paris Climate Agreement

Paris at sunset
Thursday, June 1, 2017

IBM today is reaffirming its support for the Paris Climate Agreement and stating clearly how we will continue our decades-long work to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Our call for an international agreement on this issue is more than a decade old, and we first voiced our support for the Paris Agreement in 2015 when it was negotiated.

A Problem in Small-Scale Fisheries Management in Spain and a Need to Rethink Implementation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy

ACERGA fishing skipper Marcos Alfeirán during the protest camp in late 2015, NOS
By Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Galician Association of Purse-Seine Vessel Owners (ACERGA by its acronym in Galician) is the largest association of purse-seine vessel owners in Spain. Over a year ago, ACERGA fishers and many members of their families camped in front of the main building of the government of Galicia (northwestern Spain), demanding that their voice be heard in the regulatory process for determining Spain’s annual fishing quota distribution of mackerel and horse mackerel.

FOOD WASTE: Onsite Food Waste Pre-processing Systems: Is Recycling Really Happening?

By Taz [CC BY 2.0 (http:/creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia C
By Christopher Wright, Research and Publications Intern, and Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recycling food waste through composting and anaerobic digestion has the greatest potential by far to reduce the quantity of food waste going to landfills over the next 15 years relative to food waste reduction and reuse, according to ReFED. However, as more cities and states institute landfill food waste bans and other programs to promote recycling, the demand for centralized organic processing facilities is outpacing the supply. To address the gap, vendors are actively marketing to commercial customers new onsite pre-processing systems, including dehydrators, pulpers, and biodigesters. The systems can save money by reducing or eliminating off-site hauling of food waste and are well suited to facilities short on space and staff time. But the question arises: are the nutrients and energy in food waste really being recycled?  The answer depends upon the next stage of processing.

Trumping Environmental Protection

EPA and Donald Trump
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Monday, May 22, 2017

The Trump Administration is clearly hungry for regulatory reform that reduces the cost and process burden of environmental regulation. Those who see a fundamental conflict between environmental protection and economic development welcome this development, as do those concerned that environmental requirements have become so extensive, detailed, and layered as to make compliance an elusive pursuit. Conversely, the shift raises concerns for those who see environmental protection and economic development as fully compatible goals and who fear environmental backsliding.